Happy Birthday, Orlando Patterson
Earlier in his career, Patterson was involved concerning the economic and political development of his home country, Jamaica. He served as Special Advisor to the Prime Minister of Jamaica from 1972 to 1979. (Wikipedia)
Orlando Patterson's Children of Sisyphus set the standard for social realism in Caribbean fiction. He does not romanticize the lives of the poor, nor does he damn them with neglect; rather, he gives their lives dignity.
This is the moral tightrope that all Third World writers face: the choice between compassion and brutal honesty. Patterson succeeds in this fine portrayal of the lives of the poor that is imbued with grace, despite their mean existence.
Give thanks, Orlando Patterson!
JIC, you missed this in the Comments:
Hope readers of this blog will be glad to know that just at this very moment the scans of Orlando's Children of Sisyphus are open on my laptop and being retypeset in preparation for reissue early in 2009. Geoffrey is absolutely right. Sisyphus still reads immensely powerfully. The sadness is that what he writes about is not history.
Jeremy Poynting, Peepal Tree Press